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Different Paths to Nursing That Converged at UST

Four of the student nurses who will walk the stage at the University of St. Thomas 2022 Commencement on May 14 share the personal moments of insight when they realized their destiny was caring for people through nursing. Also, these individuals are shining examples of how determined and persistent students can fulfill multiple roles and still achieve academic success.

Antonia Trejo, BSN '22Antonia Trejo, BSN: A Nurse Was Her Unsung Hero

Antonia Trejo, BSN ’22, is a single mother who sacrificed greatly to attend UST. She worked full-time throughout PSON to make her dream come true. It is a dream that began to form when she was only in the 7th grade and received word at school that her dear single mom had collapsed from a heart attack and was in the hospital. Terrified, Trejo retrieved her younger brother and navigated the Houston bus network to the bustling Ben Taub Hospital.

“We went to the front desk and asked for the ICU, and a nice lady (nurse) took us to my mom’s room,” she recalled. “The nurse saw how young we were and that we were alone and worried, and she reassured us and brought us a bag of food from McDonald’s. That was the first time I ever encountered a nurse. That nurse was my hero. Ever since then, I’ve realized that that was what I wanted to do—have a heart for taking care of people.”

Onyekenwa Nwosuocha, BSN '22Onyekenwa Nwosuocha, BSN: Touched by Compassion and Care

An international student from Nigeria, Onyekenwa Nwosuocha, BSN ’22, is a single mom of three who was forever touched by the compassion and care nurses showed for her dying mother.

“I was 18 years old, and my mother was everything to me,” she said. “My world came to a complete halt, but I drew inner strength from watching the nurses care for my mother. They treated her with great compassion and gave their all to her care. They soothed, comforted and strengthened, supporting her emotionally, physically and spiritually. It was then that the fire to become a nurse was kindled within me. I was determined to be for others what these wonderful nurses had been for my mother.” 

Jorge Avalos, BSN '22Jorge Avalos, BSN: A Natural at Making People Feel Good

Jorge Avalos, BSN ’22, is the first in his family to go to college, and he worked full-time throughout nursing school to provide for his two young children.

Previously, in a string of customer service and sales jobs, Avalos had discovered that he possessed a natural ability to talk to people and enjoyed making them feel good. But it was after he took a job at a medical clinic that he found his calling.

“When I started working at a Women’s Clinic with my mom, who is a nurse, I thought, ‘That’s funny, the answer was right in front of me all the time.’ It was so fulfilling helping the patients, some of whom were pregnant, and nine months later, getting to meet their babies.”

Areli Gomez Stewart, BSN '16, MSN '22Areli Stewart, BSN, MSN : Nursing to Provide a Healing Hand

Alumna, Areli Gomez Stewart, BSN’16, MSN ’22, is PSON’s first MSN graduate. The first-generation college student, now wife and mother, recognized her calling to the healthcare field at a young age as she watched her father battle an autoimmune disorder. It spurred her to do something that had not been done before in her family—go to college.

Stewart said, “My father’s autoimmune disorder motivated me to pursue healthcare. I was quite young when I told him that I would find a cure for him. While my career path has taken me to bedside nursing and not medical research, I can still provide a healing hand and give back to the community. My mantra has always been ‘Let all that you do be done with love.’” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Genuine Gratitude for PSON

The paths of these grads converged at UST’s Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing, and they confidently agree that PSON’s comprehensive and rigorous program has supported and prepared them for success.

Trejo said, “Whenever there’s been a hurdle, the professors and advisors have helped me get around the hurdle…cried with me…held my hand…jumped and yelled with excitement. I wouldn’t be here if it were not for God and UST.”

Nwosuocha added, “Through its numerous scholarships, the University lifted some of my financial burdens. And through the comprehensive course of study, the advisement and all the training and skills that I received here, I can confidently say that I am ready to take on life with all its ramifications, and so help me God.”

All are taking what they’ve learned and marking new compassionate, caring roads to travel.

Spring Commencement

The 2022 University of St. Thomas-Houston Commencement is Saturday, May 14, at 11 a.m., at NRG Stadium, NRG Parkway, Houston 77054. UST will celebrate the achievements of 531 undergraduates and 444 graduate students.

Of those, PSON will be represented by six new Doctorates in Nursing Practice (DNP), one new Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and 85 new Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.